The Lazy Susan is one of those tools that once you start using it you will wonder how you ever got along without it. Maybe not ideal for small pieces but when sculpting larger pieces it really is a must have. If you are not familiar what a Lazy Susan is and have no idea what I am talking about you can read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazy_Susan.
When I first started sculpting I used a Lazy Susan for all my pieces. Back then I was using a water based clay and the last thing that I wanted to do is pick a piece up and move it around. When I shifted from water based to polymer clay based clays I for some reason for forgot all about this tool. I recently rediscovered this little gem when I started working on one of my newer pieces (centaur image included at the bottom of the article – the Lazy Susan is the yellow plastic circle at the base of the sculpture).
The real benefit of this sculpting tool is that you can move the sculpture around and look at each side with a great deal of ease. You do not have to get up and move around the sculpture or even slide the base around the table. It may not sound like that great of a benefit but when sculpting you want to be able to quickly and fluidly view all angles of your artwork. This is a big plus in getting the symmetry down on a piece. It is also great just to get a reference from one angle to another.
I am going to use the picture included with this article as an example on how I use the Lazy Susan. Let’s say that I am sculpting the hind legs of my centaur. I’ve spent hours and hours working out the shape and design for the left leg but I haven’t touched the right one (happens all the time with me – probably not the best approach but it is what it is). Since the angle of the leg is the same for both the right and left I will want to make sure that the shape and design of both legs match. I’ll do a lot of eyeballing and measuring of the piece as I work on it. I’m constantly referring to the section of the sculpture that I have invested time into so I want to be able to quickly glance at the section, turn and work on the new leg and then turn back to the original leg for additional reference. I spin the piece back and forth as I reference and sculpt the individual body parts.
Now, I’m not saying that the Lazy Susan is the Holy Grail tool for sculpting but it is a cheap and great addition to any sculptor’s toolbox. I do not use it on all my pieces but for larger pieces I’ve found that it really helps speed up my sculpting time. In fact, I really miss mine on the pieces that I don’t have a chance to use my Lazy Susan (usually because it is being occupied by another piece). Don’t just take my word for it, go ahead and try it out and let me know what you think.